Over the weekend, J-pop group AKB48 held their annual General Election. Broadcast live from Nagoya to the rest of the country, the 10th installment of this “festival of democracy” (their tagline, not mine) featured legitimate history, a member collapsing (from emotion) and a new top-spot by the end of the night. When the broadcast came to a close, Jurina Matsui of SKE48 sat on the throne signifying her as the top vote getter.
It was a topsy-turvy day for Matsui. Her Saturday started with one final “appeal” performance at the Nagoya Dome, but the sight of a huge cheering section devoted to her made her overflow with emotion according to reports, resulting in her falling down and having to be carried backstage by staff. An hour later, though, she was back out to sing. And everything only went up from there.
Matsui was a favorite to win the first AKB election that defending champ Sashihara Rino would not take part in (partially because she’s dominated the last few). Matsui — born in Aichi and repping the Nagoya-based SKE48 — pulled in 194,453 votes total, easily putting her past second place teammate Akari Suda (154,011) and HKT48’s Sakura Miyawaki (141,106). She’s the first winner to come from SKE48, and comes complete with a pretty storybook-worthy rise to the top spot. She has been a part of the AKB family since age 11, and has actually taken part in every single election up to this one (in the very first installment, she came in 19th). She’s slowly climbed up ever since, finishing third the last two elections before breaking through in 2018.
The rest of the gathering lacked any of the zaniness found at last year’s event, but still featured some noteworthy happenings. This was the first AKB election where members of the group’s international sister groups could be eligible for rankings, and several did solid enough for their first go. Only BNK48’s (in Thailand) Cherprang Areekul, coming in at 39, and Praewa Suthamphong, 72, got in the top 100 rankings however. Still, the inclusion of more groups marked a significant moment for the AKB family tree.
The AKB mania doesn’t end there, though. Produce 48 debuted in South Korea last Friday, and featured new champ Matsuiand online favorite Miyawaki. But that’s a post for another day.
Hear us on SBS PopAsia Digital Radio
Listen in 24/7 on Digital Radio, by downloading our free mobile app or by streaming live here on our website.
Download the app here: